Whether it’s waiting till 11pm to do your homework due at 11:59pm, or furiously citing the minimum five resources into your English paper just a class before, as your fellow college student, I think I speak for most of us when I say that we have a tendency to procrastinate. Especially now in quarantine, many of us are lacking the motivation to do most of our work and have succumbed to the addictive properties of TikTok. “Flora” is an app that can improve your productivity as well as your connection to nature.
Made by passionate college students, “Flora” is a free-to-use app accessible on the App Store that helps you put your phone down, so that you can be more present and active in your daily life. Similar to apps that shut off your phone to force you to not use it, “Flora” is unique in that it prompts users to plant a seed in their virtual garden, which will grow while they are not using their phone. This has motivated me to continue working despite my natural tendency to look for distractions or thoughtless scrolling through social media. If you decide to use other apps on your phone as your seed is growing, your plant will automatically die.
However, users have the option to set the amount of time it takes their seed to grow, so it is flexible for people who have different studying habits. If you tend to use large blocks of time to grind out work, then you can set the amount of time needed for your seed to grow to an hour. On the other hand, if you tend to use the Pomodoro technique and study in smaller chunks of time with breaks in between, you can set it to 25 minutes. Any seeds you allow to grow without using their phone will flourish in your virtual garden for the week, and then the garden resets.
“Flora” includes some additional features that give users more incentive to continue using it. My personal favorite is the World Traveler feature, where users can unlock different plants from around the world and diversify their gardens, learning more about nature while continuing to be productive. For those who prefer working with other people, another available feature is that users can grow plants together with their friends and be just another motivating force or inspire friendly competition. Both people decide on a time they want to set in order to grow their plant and if either person can’t resist using their phone, the plant will die. It is a good way to keep each other in check while studying for an exam.
While I’ve grown a greater appreciation for nature and calm in my virtual garden, “Flora” also contains a separate feature that not only provides even more incentive to be productive, but also a way to have an impact on the environment. With the Flora Price service, the user bets money on their productivity, naming a price he or she is willing to pay to turn one’s virtual tree into reality. If the tree is killed, the user must pay the price to pay for it to be reborn as a real-life sapling. Essentially, you wager whether you will be productive, and the “consequence” if you lose is that a tree is planted in its place. According to the creators of the app, “Flora” partners with rural communities around the world and real-tree planting organizations. So, even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still grow some cool plants both virtual and real this Earth Day with “Flora.”
“Flora” can be downloaded on iOS. An alternative app named “Forest” is available on the Android play store.